OPINION: Derry MP: ‘We cannot continue with politics of division, deadlock and failure’

It’s now three months on from an Assembly election in which people in Derry and right across the North were promised real change. In the run up to the election parties were tripping over themselves, pledging to tackle the issues impacting people here, but what is there to show for it now?

We have no Executive, no support to help people with soaring energy and fuel costs and no leadership with the Ministers in the Executive to find solutions.

The cost of living crisis is getting worse every day, families are being pushed to the brink under unimaginable pressure and Ministers appear to have run out of ideas families across Derry struggling on their own to make ends meet. It’s a disgrace.

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It’s simply shameful that the DUP continue to hold us back. It simply isn’t good enough. The aim of any politician should be to improve the lives of the people they represent.

Colum Eastwood

The problems being faced by communities across these islands are hitting people in Derry particularly hard. We have long struggled due to decades of neglect from Stormont and the British government and people here are among the least equipped to weather the storm that seems to just get worse and worse.

How can people be expected to pay out huge costs for petrol to get them to work when they can barely afford to put food on the table, heat their homes or buy their child a school uniform. Many people in Derry rely on their cars for their work, from taxi and delivery drivers to community carers and nurses, these people are finding it harder and harder to keep their vehicles on the road.

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While families struggle, caretaker Executive Ministers drift aimlessly and the DUP dig in their heels. We cannot continue with the politics of division, deadlock and failure. That’s why the SDLP has formed the Official Opposition at Stormont. We have already provided strong opposition to the Tory/ DUP axis at Westminster, and now we will provide a constructive alternative to the politics that has left people in the lurch during the worst costs crisis in living memory.

We are calling for caretaker Ministers to appoint a Cost of Living Taskforce to co-ordinate a whole-government response to this crisis and to use any every tool at their disposal to help people deal with these pressures now. Ministers must also plan for further interventions later in the year and in the event of an Executive being resorted.

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There are solutions and there is a way through but politicians need to be prepared to step up and lead.

As the Official Opposition the SDLP is already working constructively with organisations and experts across the North to pave the way for radical change.

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As the alternative we in the SDLP are urging the Ministers and their parties in Government to work with us and implement our ideas, our solutions to get money into people’s pockets now, before winter arrives and families here in Derry, across the North, simply cannot afford to weather the cost of living storm.